The F-1 nonimmigrant category was created by 101(a)(15)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a full course of study to achieve a specific education or professional objective at an academic institution in the United States [U.S.]. International students in F-1 status make up the majority of international students in most academic and language programs at the University of Iowa and in the U.S.
As a student in the U.S. in F-1 status, you are required to follow specific federal laws. This is meant to provide a generic overview of certain F-1 requirements; it does not contain all laws for every situation. If you ever have questions or concerns, always contact an advisor with International Student and Scholar Services for specific guidance.
As an F-1 student, it is your responsibility to maintain your non-immigrant F-1 status. Failure to follow the laws for F-1 status can result in you losing your legal ability to be in the U.S., and may harm your chances of getting a new visa in the future. To ensure you are following F-1 laws, you must:
- Keep your passport valid at all times, in most cases for at least 6 months into the future.
- Complete your class registration by the published registration deadline (generally the 10-12 days after the first day of class, as published in the Office of the Registrar Academic Deadlines calendar.
- Update your change of physical address (where you live in the US) on MyUI within 10 days of the change. This address cannot be a P.O. Box or a departmental address.
- Pursue a full-course of study each fall and spring semester, defined as 12 semester hours for undergraduate students and 9 semester hours for graduate students.
- Obtain permission from an ISSS advisor if you need to enroll in less than a full-course of study, using the Part-Time Enrollment Authorization form.
- Obtain permission from an ISSS advisor before withdrawing from all your courses.
- Make normal progress toward completing a course of study. This includes graduating when you are eligible to graduate and not delaying graduation for non-academic reasons.
- Not let your I-20 expire. You must remember the expiration date on your I-20, and process your program extension prior to the expiration date listed on your current I-20 if you are not able to complete your studies by that time.
- Restrict your on-campus work to a weekly total of 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. You may work full-time during the winter and summer vacations.
- Refrain from beginning off-campus work until you have obtained the necessary authorization in advance from either ISSS or the USCIS.
- If traveling outside the U.S., ensure you have a valid visa (except citizens of Canada and Bermuda) and a recent travel signature on your I-20.
- Notify ISSS if you will be outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months.
- Contact ISSS if you wish to transfer to another U.S. school.
- Not work after completing your program of study unless you have been authorized for Optional Practical Training.
- Depart from the U.S. within 60 days after completing your program of study.